GRHS Chorus Launch
Glen Ridge Public Schools (NJ) hired me to create a competitive quality chorus in the high school and a feeder program in the middle school. They also asked me to create a string music program for 4th through 12th grades. The prior enrollment of students for this position was a grand total of SIX! I immediately started a plan that would put the newly formed program in front of every student throughout the district as often as possible. This was done through video, online interaction, marketing and “hitting the pavement”. I made sure all the students knew me by face and by name. The pivotal turn in recruitment and retention came when I began to utilize commercials through our closed circuit television program that was watched by all students, every morning, at the start of school. These “shorts” would then be reinforced by announcements over the loud speaker in the afternoon, printed materials hung throughout the buildings and a re-launch of a newly created logo and slogan for some promotional spirit wear. This has been an incredible learning experience that has taken long hours with every moment being absolutely worth it. Two years of this proactive campaign has now brought my program from a total enrollment of 6 students on day one to a very proud 150.
With regards to the commercial/television category that I am submitting this to as I wasn’t sure what the best fit would be for my submission, they incorporate interviews, muppets, cartoons, animations, graphics design, memes and lots of music. All of them were either created by me, by students or in some cases by other people far better suited to make animations then myself. And being a public speaker on music education (www.MusicalNeuroscience.com) I would be more than happy to share these reproducible techniques with anyone who needs to know.
Specific Budget Breakdown
New or recurring project?New Project
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Also, the Middle School singers now actively compete in the Music in the Parks program and the High School has just joined the ACDA and competed last year at the ACDA NJ State Choral Competition. The Varsity Chorus has been asked to sing the national anthem at Madison Square Garden for the NCAA Men’s Basketball semi-finals and went to New Orleans last year for a series of historic once in a lifetime performances.
Advice for someone looking to replicate this project in their own community?
To replicate this program, a music teacher should create a logo and slogan. Then they should make a video intro using free software or pay someone $5 to do it on websites like Fiverr. Get creative and find who has the expertise you need in your school (both teacher and student). Get as many people involved as possible. When prepared with your commercials and marketing materials, post/display/play something each and everyday. Take the time out of your schedule to walk around the school(s). Introduce yourself to everyone you don’t know (including students). Were something that looks musical, every day. This way people will make that assumption about you being “that music person”. And finally, embrace the change and welcome all students. Now isn’t the time to audition. Instead, I advise having all participants perform “assessments” so you know where to place them in each group. There will come a time to audition, but the program needs to be established first. We all work in communities with hidden musical gems. Find them, ask for their help, form bonds and get your students performing as often as possible!